Mass Effect Andromeda: What you need to know
We finally got some information about the next entry in the Mass Effect series at last year's E3. Firstly, it isn’t called Mass Effect 4, but Mass Effect Andromeda.
Having been colloquially known as Mass Effect 4 for so long, it's slightly strange transitioning to its new official moniker.
We still have some time until the game arrives in stores (even longer than originally planned, which we'll come to in a bit), but EA has begun slowly-but-surely drip-feeding us with new screens and footage, with hopefully a big reveal coming at E3 2016.
“We built this trailer in Frostbit, our game engine, and it represents our visual target for the final game,” explained BioWare Studio Manager, Aaryn Flynn.
Keep this page bookmarked if you want to keep up with the latest on the Mass Effect 4 release date, news and other rumours.
Watch the Andromeda trailer here:
Mass Effect Andromeda release date – When is the game coming out?
During a conference at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media Telecom Conference, chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen was discussing the publisher’s forthcoming releases, and confirmed that Mass Effect Andromeda would arrive between January and March 31, 2017. Unfortunately this is a delay to the originally-expected holiday 2016 release date.
So we’ve still got another year of waiting for Mass Effect 4, but at least we finally have a (albeit still pretty-sizeable) launch window for the game.
And we can expect BioWare to drop a lot more information, trailers and screenshots for the game before then too, just to keep the hype train fuelled.
“Thank you again for all of the support you keep showing us, and we’re looking forward to sharing more details with you near the end of the year. Until then, our teams in our Montreal, Edmonton, and Austin studios will be hard at work creating an entirely new adventure for you to lose yourselves in.”
See also: Upcoming Xbox One Games in 2016
Mass Effect Andromeda gameplay
The gameplay in Mass Effect Andromeda will be set in a new galaxy, called Andromeda, with a strong focus on exploration.
You’ll be piloting the new and improved Mako that’s been showcased before, accompanied by a “new team of adventurers” that you’ll fight alongside with, learn from and, of course, fall in love with.
“A new adventure awaits in the Mass Effect universe. With stunning visuals and a new galaxy to discover, BioWare delivers the next generation of space exploration”, explains the YouTube blurb for the Andromeda announcement trailer above.
Although the trailer didn’t give us much information, there’s a clear focus on exploration into the unknown – with even the “Wild West but in space” motif taken from Firefly.
“When we wrapped up the original Mass Effect trilogy with Mass Effect 3: Citadel in early 2014, planning and design on Mass Effect: Andromeda was already well underway. We knew we wanted to start with a foundation composed of the best parts of any Mass Effect game: exciting new worlds to discover, great characters, and intense action,” explained BioWare’s Studio GM Aaryn Flynn.
“At the same time, we clearly wanted to expand the definition of what you should expect from a Mass Effect game.”
See also: Oculus Rift Review
And before you get too excited, you know that character in the trailer with an N7 logo on their chest? That’s not Mass Effect Andromeda’s hero. We assumed that the shadowy armoured figure in the trailer was our brand new Shepard, but apparently that’s not the case.
“While we aren’t ready to go into too many details just yet, as you saw in the trailer and can tell by the name, this game is very much a new adventure, taking place far away from and long after the events of the original trilogy,” said BioWare Studio Manager, Aaryn Flynn.
“You will play a human, male or female, thought that actually not the character you saw in the trailer (more on that later).”
Whatever BioWare says, we’re just getting closer and closer to the information revealed by a survey - which you can read more about below.
See also: Playstation VR Preview
Mass Effect 4 news
Game details potentially leaked by trailer
A survey from Bioware may have leaked a substantial amount of information on Mass Effect 4.
According to the survey, which emerged via a now deleted Reddit user, the game will take place in the Helius Cluster, which is a cluster of hundreds of solar systems within the Andromeda Galaxy.
The character you’ll play is apparently called the “Pathfinder” and will explore an adventure “far removed by time and space from Commander Shepard’s heroic acts and the final events of the Mass Effect trilogy.”
As a “combat trained but untested explorer”, your goal is to find a new home for humanity with the Mako in tow of course. You’ll need to collect resources along the way, build colonies and face “cut-throat outlaws” across “a sprawling system of solar systems”.
More importantly, you’ll also discover remains of the Remnant, which is a mysterious alien race that wields the technology that “holds the key to gaining power in this region of the galaxy”.
See also: Titanfall 2 - Everything we know so far
Mass Effect 4 to be Xbox One, PS4 and PC exclusive
Forget any hopes you had of the next Mass Effect game coming to last-gen consoles, as developer BioWare has confirmed it will be solely for new-gen consoles - and PC too of course.
The news came via BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn, who said on NeoGAF that the developer had ditched development for last-gen consoles.
"I'd go so far as to say that dropping the older consoles has had more impact on the overall gameplay goals of hte next Mass Effect game than what Dragon Age: Inquisition successfully achieved," said Flynn.
See also: PS4 vs Xbox One
Dragon Age: Inquisition isn't a template for the next Mass Effect
Despite the financial and critical success of Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare isn't going to use the game as any sort of template for the next Mass Effect - regardless of the similarities between the two games.
"All of our games are using Frostbite now," said BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn. "We've said the next Mass Effect (and our new IP, but I won't expand on that yet) uses some of the technology from Dragon Age: Inquisition. We've been enjoying building larger areas that you can explore with less friction, so that'll be there as well."
"But after that, the next Mass Effect will be (and should be) drawing on its own rich and successful past more than what Dragon Age: Inquisition would say it should do. Take the Mako for example, something we've already shown in prototype form. We had that in Mass Effect 1, and bringing it back is more related to a feeling that we can do it much better than we did before and fulfil the original promise of that gameplay. that has nothing to do with Dragon Age: Inquisition."
"We're very proud of what Dragon Age: Inquisition has achieved, but that does not set a 'template' for what every other game we make needs to be. Each game franchise needs to innovate and improve their experience based on what's best for it, not just what another game had success with."
See also: Upcoming PS4 Games of 2016
Lots of details from San Diego Comic-Con 2014
Those attending this year's Comic-Con were lucky enough to attend a special Mass Effect panel entitled: "Charting a Course: Developing the next Mass Effect".
During this half hour panel, BioWare panelists Carl Boulay (lead animator), Fabrice Condominas (producer), Mike Gamble (producer), and Noel Lukasewich (senior artist) shared their experiences of developing the next Mass Effect and revealed a few key details about the upcoming game.
"At this point we want to pull back the curtain a little bit on some work in progress stuff as we go through, to give you some more insight into it. But it is work in progress stuff. We're years away from being able to say that this is the exact game that we're making. Take this with a grain of salt. What you see here may not be the same as in the final game, but we want to show it anyway," said Gamble.
They started off by showing off the hero of the next Mass Effect. Confirming the main character will be human, the team teased that they would have something to do with N7 - something very key to the previous Mass Effect titles and Shepard himself/herself.
The team did reiterate that the game's storyline will not focus on anything to do with Shepard and will feature a brand new storyline. The timeline will be set during Shepard's lifetime though, albeit potentially in a different galaxy.
In that manner then, you could see some of your old favourites like Garrus or Samara making a brief cameo in the new game.
As you can see above, BioWare showed off two customisable armour designs for the game's protagonists, in both male and female iterations and both were given a glass helmet. This latter part of the armour is to highlight the game's strong focus on exploration.
That ties in with the return of the Mako too. The Mako was a six-wheeled vehicle used in the first Mass Effect game, but it is being revamped and made speedier for the next Mass Effect.
"It's a really agile Mako, it's much different to the one you've seen before. There's no cannon on it, maybe it can hover maybe it can jump - I don't know", teased Gamble.
A very brief gameplay demo of the Mako showed it zooming around a snowy landscape with some speed, doing doughnuts, doing jumps off rocky outcrops and even more exciting things.
"We're playing around with a bunch of different physics for the Mako. The thing that we have to do is make sure it is as responsive as possible," said Gamble. "We've learned a thing or two over the years."
"it's mean to be a fast, point to point vehicle at this point. It's something that you can tear around planets in really quick to get to where you need to go."
"The Mako is going to be fundamental to the game. We're making a game about exploring places and obviously exploring places needs a really, really handy vehicle."
BioWare also confirmed that the game would feature the some familiar alien races, but also introduce some new ones. Of course, one of the game's fundamental attractions are the interactions and relationships you can have. This will still be present in Mass Effect 4, so don't expect to lose that with the newest game.
“The animation team is now doing stuff we couldn’t even dream about before,” said Gamble during the panel.
The game may also build in some kind of co-operative multiplayer for the storyline, as although competitive multiplayer is important, Gamble said “co-operation is bigger for us”.
Watch the full Comic-Con panel here:
Next Mass Effect will definitely feature brand new characters
During the EA Games E3 2014 press conference, a brief, but exciting Bioware docu-trailer was shown. It gave us some brand new details on the next Mass Effect and a little on the new IP in development at BioWare Edmonton.
"We think fans of the series are going to be surprised with just how far we are going," explained BioWare during the trailer.
Although it didn't offer any information on the release date, BioWare did confirm Mass Effect 4 would feature "new places, new characters and new people to fall in love with."
"We want to build a world that is as big and as imaginative as anything we have done so far," explained the developer. "At BioWare we are building worlds and journeys for the next generation."
The game will be set in a new location in space and the idea is to centre the game on exploration - letting you travel to new planets at the touch of a button, without loading screens.
Bioware is just teasing us with these new Mass Effect 4 pictures...The guys over at Bioware have issued a series of tweets teasing the upcoming Mass Effect game, but the tantalising images actually reveal very little about the game.Various Mass Effect 4 developers released the Twitter pics, starting with the tagline: "The next Mass Effect is upon us!" They also added there will be "new characters to fall in love with", "new enemies to encounter" and "new worlds to explore".
Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect game, rounded off the tweets with a celebration of N7 Day 2013, saying:
"We continue working hard to create amazing new Mass Effect experiences for you. Happy N7 Day everyone! #N7Day13".
Take a look at the pictures they released...
Mass Effect 3 may have been the last we see of Shepard. Ever.
According to Mass Effect 3 writer Mac Walters, Mass Effect 4 may not relate directly to the existing Mass Effect trilogy "at all, whatsoever".
So that means ME3 might really be the end of Shepard as we know him/her, and we suppose this fits with the fact the next Mass Effect will take place in a "fresh and new universe."
"Well, I can't get into details, but the idea is that we have agreed to tell a story that doesn't relate necessarily to any of the Shepard events at all, whatsoever," explained Walters. "That's what we've been deciding for a while. But throughout it all, one of the key things is that it has to be Mass Effect."
"It can't just feel like a spin-off. It has to feel like a Mass Effect game at its heart, at its core. Just without the Shepard character or the Shepard specific companions".
Gears of War 3 producer to join Mass Effect team
Chris Wynn, previously Senior Producer for Epic Games, will be moving to a new post at BioWare.
Working as the Senior Development Director for the next Mass Effect game, Wynn has deserted his post as Senior Producer at Epic Games, having worked on Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment.
Announcing his new job on Twitter, Wynn said he was "thrilled to announce" his new role at BioWare.
Wynn will be working under Mass Effect franchise boss Casey Hudson, but will have a huge part to play in the development of the next Mass Effect title.
Read more - Mass Effect 4 team gains Gears of War producer Chris Wynn - July 3
The story will focus on galactic colonisation in a seamless open world
According to a recent marketing survey found by NeoGAF, in Mass Effect: Andromeda "we are the aliens." Players must fight for a new home against a deadly new threat hellbent on destroying humanity.
“Mass Effect: Andromeda takes players to the Andromeda galaxy, far beyond the Milky Way, where players will lead the fight for a new home in hostile territory—where WE are the aliens—opposed by a deadly indigenous race bent on stopping us.”
“Experience the freedom to traverse and explore a planet-dense but seamless open-world galaxy, rich with discovery. Play as the leader of a squad of military-trained explorers in an intense third-person shooter, with deep progression and customization systems.”
“This is the story of humanity’s next chapter, and player choices throughout the game will ultimately determine our survival in the Andromeda Galaxy.”
Leaked prototype footage
Users on NeoGAF recently discovered a bitesized chunk of gameplay from the "website of a certain developer."
The 2014 prototype footage shows the player using jetpacks to navigate the environment and climb nearby buildings, as well as some familar alien faces.
Krogans make a welcome return, and appear to be deadlier than ever. Let's just hope they're on our side.
Mass Effect 4 - what we’d like to see
1. A prequel exploring Mass Effect history
Games like the new Tomb Raider reboot and Batman Arkham: Origins prove that everybody likes a prequel. The Mass Effect timeline is already littered with important events that have had a serious impact on the story of the original trilogy.
The rise and the fall of the Protheans; The Krogan Rebellions; The Geth Wars; or even the Rachni Wars could serve as excellent settings for the Mass Effect 4 game. Often these events have been diminished to mere bullet points in the Mass Effect codex or brief story points, so Mass Effect 4 could be used to elaborate more.
In this way, some of the stories of the spin-off Mass Effect novels and comics could be given the video game treatment.
2. A sequel exploring what Shepard does in the aftermath
We’ll avoid spoilers for all those who haven’t finished Mass Effect 3, but Mass Effect 4 could explain what happened to Shepard after that ending. Mass Effect 3’s various finales managed to conclude Shepard’s story fairly beautifully, but have also caused many an online argument.
We would love to see what happens to Shepard, but also to the universe itself. What happened to that now redundant technology? What happened to the various races? Mass Effect 4 could have a go at answering some of those questions.
3. Play as an alien
As fond as we are at times of our own human form, Mass Effect 4 could be the chance to explore the universe from the perspective of another species. Imagine playing as a Krogan, Asari, Quarian, Turian or Salarian, instead of a human?
The Mass Effect trilogy featured so many races that the next game could tell any of their stories. In fact, it could be argued that in comparison, Shepard is one of the least interesting characters in the trilogy, which is certainly a nod to BioWare’s ability to create rounded non-player characters.
4. A more personal story
Finally, BioWare could make the whole storyline of Mass Effect 4 a little less grandiose. We’ve already repeatedly saved the universe, so why not take the plot right down to a single character’s more personal quest or at least something a little less epic?
The loyalty quests in the original Mass Effect Trilogy could be expanded into full length games, or introduce a new character somehow connected to the series’ existing characters.
5. Space Battles
The Mass Effect series missed out on a potentially golden opportunity. In between the planets and asteroids, the universe was an inaccessible expanse. All the space exploration we got to do was watch loading screens between planets or scrounge resources for the war effort.
Mass Effect 4 needs space battles. Indeed, Mass Effect 3 actually had one of the best space battle scenes, but unfortunately we didn’t get to partake in it. BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic features space battles, so why not the next Mass Effect game?
How they approach such space battles could come in a number of formats, but anything better than laboriously scanning planets for resources would be preferable.
What would you like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments.